5 Things Salespeople MUST Do to Stay Relevant

by Shannon F.

sales paradigm shift

As B2B sales evolve, some salespeople will be left clutching their rolodexes and wondering how they went from top performer to nonentity. It’s harsh but true: if even the best sales reps don’t keep a finger on the pulse of sales shifts and long-term trends, they’ll slowly lose touch with how today’s buyers want to be sold. Here are the 5 things you MUST do to keep from becoming irrelevant.

1. Embrace social networking as a sales tool. This is no longer optional. Use Linkedin to actively build your network, connect with influential decision-makers, and find leads. If you aren’t doing this, you are losing out on the countless potential opportunities that are only a few clicks away. Plus, nothing screams “trustworthy” to today’s business decision-makers like an active Linkedin account complete with a picture, endorsements, and recommendations. The first thing an interested prospect will do after receiving a voicemail or email from you is google your name. If they can’t find you, you are irrelevant.

Today’s business leaders make buying decisions by researching, comparison-shopping online, and looking for referrals/testimonials from satisfied customers. They no longer make decisions solely from a telephone conversation or even a face-to-face meeting with you.

2. Network with peers. If you are the lone wolf in the sales department, you won’t learn from your peers’ mistakes. It’s helpful to seek feedback from the rest of your sales team as you approach everything from product knowledge to strategic email content.

Why? A sales paradigm shift is a time of experimentation. You will be learning new skills, like prospecting via social media, content marketing, and faster CRM. Your best resources will be your peers, both at your company and in networking groups online and off.

3. Keep learning. It doesn’t matter that you have worked in sales for twenty years. Your professional education is an ongoing process. Subscribe to sales blogs, attend webinars and conferences, have conversations, and get into arguments. Similarly, continue to stay up-to-date on your industry so that you can provide relevant, highly-specific consulting to your prospects and clients. Never rely on information that is several years old.

Why? Knowledge is power, especially in today’s rapidly-changing world. Salespeople quickly become irrelevant when they stop exploring, questioning, and trying new strategies. Keep in mind that today’s strategy, fact, or statistic might be tomorrow’s mistake.

4. Revise your selling conversation. It’s not about you, your company, or your other clients—it’s about your highly-educated, resourceful prospect who already thinks he or she knows more than you. Today’s prospect doesn’t want to hear a script about your past successes or the history of your company, unless it specifically illuminates an area of their need. This means you must be more adaptable and more specific in your story-telling and pre-sale consulting. Better yet, introduce the need, educating and inspiring the prospect as you go.

Why? It all comes down to the availability of information. With so many resources at their disposal, your prospects are teaching themselves about the product you sell. So elevate the conversation to the next level and show the prospect how your product or service is more than just a solution to an existing problem.

5. Open your mind. We’ve all encountered salespeople who insist that their tried-and-true methods will always work. But how long will they be successful? The most important thing a salesperson can do to stay relevant is remain open to new tools, practices, and information.

Why? Seasoned sales reps sometimes find that new sales practices aren’t intuitive. They may wonder why they’re supposed to beat around the bush with engagement marketing strategies, for example. Remember that it’s not always enough to base your judgments on how YOU would prefer to be sold. Be open to generational differences and cultural shifts that are provoking a change in buyer behavior, and you will continue to experience success where “traditionalist” salespeople are failing.

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